The worlds largest plane is the Antonov An-225 Myria, The Russian word ' Мрия ' incidentally means 'inspired dream' it is classed as a Strategic Air-lifter and was constructed by the Antonov Design Bureau in the Ukraine in 1988 as a derivative from the Antanov An124.
There were only two An-225 planes ever built, with their colossal size though, it must be said that you only need two !
The An-225 took its maiden flight on the 21st December 1988, whilst two of these planes were actually commissioned there is only one in operation with the registration UR-82060.
The An-225 is not a military plane and is therefore available for flying anyone's oversized cargo to anywhere in the the world. With a capacity of 550,000 lb in its cargo area or 440,000 lb carried on the upper fuselage (on the outside) the An-225 is certainly an airplane that's up to the job of ultra heavy haulage.
The plane was originally intended for use within the Russian space program to haul the Buran space shuttle orbiter from destination to destination, but due to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990 much of the Russian Space program was cancelled along with any further development of the An-225.
The Specifications of the Antonov An-225 are quite impressive. It only has a crew of 6 to fly, run and operate, consisting of two pilots, two flight engineers, a navigator and a communications officer. The maximum payload is 551,200lb's or 275 (short) tons and the planes length is 275 ft with a wingspan of 290ft.
The plane stands nearly 60 feet high from its gear to the tip of its tail. The huge cargo door that opens on the front of the plane is 14 ft tall and 21 ft across, big enough to take an articulated truck or bigger. The cargo hold itself is 141 ft long.
The world record breaking maximum take-off weight of the An-225, ( this includes the weight of the plane itself ) is a massive 1 million, 322 thousand and 750lbs ! and needs 3,500 meters of runway to achieve take off on its 32 wheeled landing gear. This array of wheels and the actual close configuration that they are in are needed to support the entire weight of the plane and any heavy payload when its on the ground.
The An-225 is powered by 6 massive ZMKB Ivchenko Progress D-18 Turbofan Jet engines producing 303,600lbs or 151 tons of constant combined thrust, which will accelerate the plane to over hundred mph on the runway to get it airborne.
The plane can reach a maximum flight speed of 460 knots or 530mph with a cruising speed of 430 knots or 500mph. With a maximum cargo capacity filling the hold it has a range of 2,500 miles, this range is increased when the plane is not carrying any cargo to 9,570 miles. The cruise height or ceiling altitude at which the An-225 generally flies is 36,000 ft or nearly 7 miles high.
The An-225 is currently classed as the worlds largest and indeed heaviest aircraft with its gross maximum weight of 640 tons. In September 2001 the An-225 carried a world record cargo of 254 tons at an altitude of 6,500 feet whilst traveling at 474 mph.
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